5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

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5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 04, 2015 9:34 pm

5th year corporate associate at AmLaw 100 in major market leaving firm life to go in-house. I've been a long time lurker on this site so would like to give back to the extent that I can.

Ask me anything (though I will not share certain details to protect my identity).

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 04, 2015 9:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:5th year corporate associate at AmLaw 100 in major market leaving firm life to go in-house. I've been a long time lurker on this site so would like to give back to the extent that I can.

Ask me anything (though I will not share certain details to protect my identity).


In house salary?

Size of company (i.e., F50, F100, etc.)?

How you found the job?

Is the in-house office in the same major market as your firm, or are you moving for the job?

Thanks in advance.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 04, 2015 9:50 pm

Thanks for doing this AMA, and congrats on your new job!

A few questions:
1) How did you find your new job?
2) Do you expect to have more autonomy there?
3) What kind of decrease in salary should one expect after leaving biglaw? (Sorry if this is too direct)

Thanks again!

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby rickgrimes69 » Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:43 pm

Which practice group did you specialize in, and what are you doing at your new position?

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Br3v
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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Br3v » Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:57 pm

I am not prestigious enough to know if Amlaw 100 equates to big law, if it does, did you plan to stay five years? How many of your fellow associates stayed as long? What was the average stay?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:5th year corporate associate at AmLaw 100 in major market leaving firm life to go in-house. I've been a long time lurker on this site so would like to give back to the extent that I can.

Ask me anything (though I will not share certain details to protect my identity).


In house salary?

Size of company (i.e., F50, F100, etc.)?

How you found the job?

Is the in-house office in the same major market as your firm, or are you moving for the job?

Thanks in advance.

During the interview process, I encountered a very wide range of compensation - $95K - $210K (including salary and bonus). Taking away the outliers, it was generally $125K-$165K for the 4-6 year range in the same major market in which I worked. Most places give you a pretty sizable bump after a few years (some start to give equity, options or give bigger bonuses). On the high end, the only positions that I saw north of $165K were in the financial services industry and generally had longer hours than other positions.

It is a fairly large public company with more than 50 people in the legal group. I don't want to be more specific.

I hit the search really hard. I asked former colleagues that had gone in-house which recruiters they used. It was also a good opportunity to talk with them about their company and their search (and put them on notice that I was looking). I worked with several recruiters and I reviewed job post boards like glassdoor, indeed, goinhouse and linkedin on a regular basis. Even with all this, it took me around a year to find a job..granted, I was picky.

Same market so no move required. I cannot imagine doing the search in another market. The interview process was pretty exhausting. Most jobs require 3 interview rounds before an offer.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Capitol_Idea » Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:34 pm

Thanks for sharing this info, OP!

What kind of corporate work were you doing in your firm before the move? M&A, VC, PE, etc. ?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for doing this AMA, and congrats on your new job!

A few questions:
1) How did you find your new job?
2) Do you expect to have more autonomy there?
3) What kind of decrease in salary should one expect after leaving biglaw? (Sorry if this is too direct)

Thanks again!

1) See above.

2) I expect to have less autonomy on some levels and more on other levels. I expect to have a little less oversight of my work. I should say that I had a fair amount of autonomy with my work right now because I've been working with the same partners for several years now. People in the legal department in-house are too busy to micromanage and are not compensated by pure hours so they focus on efficiency. If I am working on a really important matter, there will be more oversight. If I am working on a less important matter, there will be less. This is true to some extent at a firm, but it is amplified in-house. In terms of my day-to-day comings and goings, I will have less autonomy. Although the company does not stress face time, it is more important than a firm. At my firm, I came and went as I pleased depending upon work flow. If I was slow, I'd sometimes randomly work from home or come in at 10am and leave at 3:30. I will generally need to be in the office between 9-5, although there is some flexibility.

3) See above for salary range that I saw in my market. This is just my experience, though. I know the salary guides from Robert Half and others list higher salaries. I probably interviewed at more than 10 companies before accepting this role. About half of the companies turned me down and half I turned down.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:41 pm

rickgrimes69 wrote:Which practice group did you specialize in, and what are you doing at your new position?

Corporate - it was a mix of M&A, venture capital, private equity, securities compliance and general corporate.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby sinfiery » Thu Mar 05, 2015 12:38 am

Compare hours worked/billed at firm vs hours inhouse

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 05, 2015 10:18 am

sinfiery wrote:Compare hours worked/billed at firm vs hours inhouse

At firm it varied a lot. Some stints were regularly 200+ billables per month. Other times, I would get a couple months in a row on which I did not even break 150. The pure numbers do not really tell the day to day life, however. If I billed 140 with a lot of weekend/evening/vacation work and was slow during 9-5, it was still a miserable month. Additionally, for the first couple of years, I would usually have an all nighter at least once every couple of months (and several nights past 1am on top of the all nighter). On average, I could usually leave by 8/830pm over the course of my career, which isn't terrible, but it was the inconsistency that killed me. I had no control over my life, which made it impossible to schedule anything during the weekend (and sometimes difficult even on weekends) - I missed lots of dinners/plans with friends, concerts, gym time and lots of evenings with my significant other. There were weeks in which I never saw my significant other except to wake him/her to let him/her know I was home safe. There were times I sacrificed my health so that I maintained personal relationships (like going to a friends bday party and staying up late even though I had pulled an all nighter the night before and was a zombie). I had colleagues and friends comment that they were worried about my health at times because I looked so horrible. Emotionally, it took a toll. I grew impatient with the lifestyle and angry at times towards the end because of the expectation that works comes before all else. I kept my feelings hidden well (I think) from most colleagues but I was bitter and no longer really enjoyed coming to work everyday. Whereas, when I first started, I loved coming to work even during busy periods. It is really too bad that the lifestyle requires so much sacrifice, even for partners (maybe moreso for partners). Big law firms lose a lot of really good talent for almost pure lifestyle reasons. I am leaving for other reasons too (interested in business side), but I probably wouldn't have questioned my path and thought of leaving if the lifestyle was better. I will miss many of my colleagues. My job's challenges were client driven for the most part so I do not have any ill feelings towards my colleagues. Looking around the firm, there are very few associates left that were there when I started and even fewer of those that were not laterals. A handful made partner but most left for smaller firms or in house jobs.

My day to day will be probably 9-9.5 hour days with no weekend or vacation work and little evening work beyond regular business hours except during busy periods or to answer emails.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 05, 2015 10:46 am

Thanks for taking questions.

I'm a burnt out 3rd year associate at a V20 and want to get out of the firm as quickly as possible. Am I doing my career a disservice by leaving with 2.5 years' experience instead of sticking it out for an extra year or two? In other words, do you think the in-house opportunities that require 4 years' experience significantly better than those jobs that require only 2.5 or 3 years of Biglaw?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 05, 2015 11:48 am

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for taking questions.

I'm a burnt out 3rd year associate at a V20 and want to get out of the firm as quickly as possible. Am I doing my career a disservice by leaving with 2.5 years' experience instead of sticking it out for an extra year or two? In other words, do you think the in-house opportunities that require 4 years' experience significantly better than those jobs that require only 2.5 or 3 years of Biglaw?

It depends. Tell me a little bit about your autonomy, the type of work you do, the type of job you want and how much responsibility you are given right now. I struggled with this issue a lot before I left.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 05, 2015 2:49 pm

Br3v wrote:I am not prestigious enough to know if Amlaw 100 equates to big law, if it does, did you plan to stay five years? How many of your fellow associates stayed as long? What was the average stay?


To be clear, I was a 5th year (so I never made it to my 5 year anniversary). I never had a set plan. I worked hard and took it one year at a time, while realizing that I probably needed to do it for at least 2-3 years. After 2-3 years I felt more comfortable saying no to marketing bullshit if the request was coming from someone who didn't feed me my billable work. I worked very hard for those that were good to me and tried to turn away those with whom I did not enjoy working after about 2-3 years. There is no formula there - I just finally got to a point where I could say no politely. There were times when I thought I wanted to be a partner. I very much think that the door was open for it but I decided that I preferred the in house route.

I would say the average associates leaves after 3-4 years now that the economy is hot. When it was bad, it was more like 4-6 because exits were harder to come by. There are only a small handful of associated left that were here when I started (maybe like 5-10% of the original pool).

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby sinfiery » Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
sinfiery wrote:Compare hours worked/billed at firm vs hours inhouse

At firm it varied a lot. Some stints were regularly 200+ billables per month. Other times, I would get a couple months in a row on which I did not even break 150. The pure numbers do not really tell the day to day life, however. If I billed 140 with a lot of weekend/evening/vacation work and was slow during 9-5, it was still a miserable month. Additionally, for the first couple of years, I would usually have an all nighter at least once every couple of months (and several nights past 1am on top of the all nighter). On average, I could usually leave by 8/830pm over the course of my career, which isn't terrible, but it was the inconsistency that killed me. I had no control over my life, which made it impossible to schedule anything during the weekend (and sometimes difficult even on weekends) - I missed lots of dinners/plans with friends, concerts, gym time and lots of evenings with my significant other. There were weeks in which I never saw my significant other except to wake him/her to let him/her know I was home safe. There were times I sacrificed my health so that I maintained personal relationships (like going to a friends bday party and staying up late even though I had pulled an all nighter the night before and was a zombie). I had colleagues and friends comment that they were worried about my health at times because I looked so horrible. Emotionally, it took a toll. I grew impatient with the lifestyle and angry at times towards the end because of the expectation that works comes before all else. I kept my feelings hidden well (I think) from most colleagues but I was bitter and no longer really enjoyed coming to work everyday. Whereas, when I first started, I loved coming to work even during busy periods. It is really too bad that the lifestyle requires so much sacrifice, even for partners (maybe moreso for partners). Big law firms lose a lot of really good talent for almost pure lifestyle reasons. I am leaving for other reasons too (interested in business side), but I probably wouldn't have questioned my path and thought of leaving if the lifestyle was better. I will miss many of my colleagues. My job's challenges were client driven for the most part so I do not have any ill feelings towards my colleagues. Looking around the firm, there are very few associates left that were there when I started and even fewer of those that were not laterals. A handful made partner but most left for smaller firms or in house jobs.

My day to day will be probably 9-9.5 hour days with no weekend or vacation work and little evening work beyond regular business hours except during busy periods or to answer emails.


Solid answer. Thanks.

I really wish firms were more comfortable with you just not being there when there was no work. I don't yet know how the whole dynamic works so maybe it just isn't possible but that would be pretty great for finding time to do at least some of the stuff that slips when work always comes first. (Gym, chores, etc.)

Especially if you lived like 10 minutes away.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby mvp99 » Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:59 pm

I know it sucked for awhile.. but was it worth it?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby redsox550 » Thu Mar 05, 2015 5:15 pm

How much would you say grades and or the law school you went to, impacted your options?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Br3v » Thu Mar 05, 2015 5:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Br3v wrote:I am not prestigious enough to know if Amlaw 100 equates to big law, if it does, did you plan to stay five years? How many of your fellow associates stayed as long? What was the average stay?


To be clear, I was a 5th year (so I never made it to my 5 year anniversary). I never had a set plan. I worked hard and took it one year at a time, while realizing that I probably needed to do it for at least 2-3 years. After 2-3 years I felt more comfortable saying no to marketing bullshit if the request was coming from someone who didn't feed me my billable work. I worked very hard for those that were good to me and tried to turn away those with whom I did not enjoy working after about 2-3 years. There is no formula there - I just finally got to a point where I could say no politely. There were times when I thought I wanted to be a partner. I very much think that the door was open for it but I decided that I preferred the in house route.

I would say the average associates leaves after 3-4 years now that the economy is hot. When it was bad, it was more like 4-6 because exits were harder to come by. There are only a small handful of associated left that were here when I started (maybe like 5-10% of the original pool).


This is a weird question, but what happens when people slowly leave over the years? Is it just, one day you look up and so and so has left? I guess a more normal way of asking that is: were you close to the other associates in your class?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 05, 2015 5:40 pm

sinfiery wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
sinfiery wrote:Compare hours worked/billed at firm vs hours inhouse

At firm it varied a lot. Some stints were regularly 200+ billables per month. Other times, I would get a couple months in a row on which I did not even break 150. The pure numbers do not really tell the day to day life, however. If I billed 140 with a lot of weekend/evening/vacation work and was slow during 9-5, it was still a miserable month. Additionally, for the first couple of years, I would usually have an all nighter at least once every couple of months (and several nights past 1am on top of the all nighter). On average, I could usually leave by 8/830pm over the course of my career, which isn't terrible, but it was the inconsistency that killed me. I had no control over my life, which made it impossible to schedule anything during the weekend (and sometimes difficult even on weekends) - I missed lots of dinners/plans with friends, concerts, gym time and lots of evenings with my significant other. There were weeks in which I never saw my significant other except to wake him/her to let him/her know I was home safe. There were times I sacrificed my health so that I maintained personal relationships (like going to a friends bday party and staying up late even though I had pulled an all nighter the night before and was a zombie). I had colleagues and friends comment that they were worried about my health at times because I looked so horrible. Emotionally, it took a toll. I grew impatient with the lifestyle and angry at times towards the end because of the expectation that works comes before all else. I kept my feelings hidden well (I think) from most colleagues but I was bitter and no longer really enjoyed coming to work everyday. Whereas, when I first started, I loved coming to work even during busy periods. It is really too bad that the lifestyle requires so much sacrifice, even for partners (maybe moreso for partners). Big law firms lose a lot of really good talent for almost pure lifestyle reasons. I am leaving for other reasons too (interested in business side), but I probably wouldn't have questioned my path and thought of leaving if the lifestyle was better. I will miss many of my colleagues. My job's challenges were client driven for the most part so I do not have any ill feelings towards my colleagues. Looking around the firm, there are very few associates left that were there when I started and even fewer of those that were not laterals. A handful made partner but most left for smaller firms or in house jobs.

My day to day will be probably 9-9.5 hour days with no weekend or vacation work and little evening work beyond regular business hours except during busy periods or to answer emails.


Solid answer. Thanks.

I really wish firms were more comfortable with you just not being there when there was no work. I don't yet know how the whole dynamic works so maybe it just isn't possible but that would be pretty great for finding time to do at least some of the stuff that slips when work always comes first. (Gym, chores, etc.)

Especially if you lived like 10 minutes away.


Some places might be okay with it, but I think most would get fed up quickly if you didn't show up pretty much every day even if you weren't busy. I agree it's dumb. I started working from home more towards the end because I could and partners trusted me. It took a long time to develop the trust and even still I got some funny vibes from people for doing it. You have to jailbreak when you can though once you establish yourself. The late arrival/early leave when you are not busy is key to survival. You just can't do it too early in your career and you need to still be very accessible by phone/email otherwise you will piss people off. Partners are super busy so they sometimes only have 10 minutes to catch up with you in a given day or they may want to meet face to face with no warning and they only have that time slot available. If you miss that window, you lose a day. This is what drives the need to be in the office for most of the day even if not busy, but all partners have their own working style. You will definitely piss off associates (unless you are managing them) if you are working on a deal together and they are in the office and you are not.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 05, 2015 5:46 pm

mvp99 wrote:I know it sucked for awhile.. but was it worth it?

As I sit here now, absolutely. I'm very excited about my in-house job. I think it will allow me to love coming into work again. I've received excellent training, met a lot of interesting and smart people and it made me a better writer, clearer communicator and better critical thinker.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Mar 05, 2015 5:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 05, 2015 5:48 pm

redsox550 wrote:How much would you say grades and or the law school you went to, impacted your options?

Do you mean my in-house options? If so, I would say very little. There were a few hedge fund jobs that would only look at ivy leaguers but no one else seemed to care.

If you mean whether grades/school impacted my firm options? Absolutely. I didn't go to a t14 school but my school has a solid reputation and I was top 5-10% after first year.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 05, 2015 5:51 pm

Br3v wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Br3v wrote:I am not prestigious enough to know if Amlaw 100 equates to big law, if it does, did you plan to stay five years? How many of your fellow associates stayed as long? What was the average stay?


To be clear, I was a 5th year (so I never made it to my 5 year anniversary). I never had a set plan. I worked hard and took it one year at a time, while realizing that I probably needed to do it for at least 2-3 years. After 2-3 years I felt more comfortable saying no to marketing bullshit if the request was coming from someone who didn't feed me my billable work. I worked very hard for those that were good to me and tried to turn away those with whom I did not enjoy working after about 2-3 years. There is no formula there - I just finally got to a point where I could say no politely. There were times when I thought I wanted to be a partner. I very much think that the door was open for it but I decided that I preferred the in house route.

I would say the average associates leaves after 3-4 years now that the economy is hot. When it was bad, it was more like 4-6 because exits were harder to come by. There are only a small handful of associated left that were here when I started (maybe like 5-10% of the original pool).


This is a weird question, but what happens when people slowly leave over the years? Is it just, one day you look up and so and so has left? I guess a more normal way of asking that is: were you close to the other associates in your class?

It's depressing to be honest. I liked a lot of my colleagues that left. The folks outside of my practice group impacted me less because I didn't see them very often anyways. There have been several colleagues that have left that I considered friends and mentors so I was very sad to see them go. High turn over hurts the culture for sure. It makes the day to day more empty for me and made me less likely to go to firm events.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby TTTooKewl » Thu Mar 05, 2015 6:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Br3v wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Br3v wrote:I am not prestigious enough to know if Amlaw 100 equates to big law, if it does, did you plan to stay five years? How many of your fellow associates stayed as long? What was the average stay?


To be clear, I was a 5th year (so I never made it to my 5 year anniversary). I never had a set plan. I worked hard and took it one year at a time, while realizing that I probably needed to do it for at least 2-3 years. After 2-3 years I felt more comfortable saying no to marketing bullshit if the request was coming from someone who didn't feed me my billable work. I worked very hard for those that were good to me and tried to turn away those with whom I did not enjoy working after about 2-3 years. There is no formula there - I just finally got to a point where I could say no politely. There were times when I thought I wanted to be a partner. I very much think that the door was open for it but I decided that I preferred the in house route.

I would say the average associates leaves after 3-4 years now that the economy is hot. When it was bad, it was more like 4-6 because exits were harder to come by. There are only a small handful of associated left that were here when I started (maybe like 5-10% of the original pool).


This is a weird question, but what happens when people slowly leave over the years? Is it just, one day you look up and so and so has left? I guess a more normal way of asking that is: were you close to the other associates in your class?

It's depressing to be honest. I liked a lot of my colleagues that left. The folks outside of my practice group impacted me less because I didn't see them very often anyways. There have been several colleagues that have left that I considered friends and mentors so I was very sad to see them go. High turn over hurts the culture for sure. It makes the day to day more empty for me and made me less likely to go to firm events.


What types of places did your former firm colleagues land, after leaving the firm?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 05, 2015 7:53 pm

TTTooKewl wrote:
What types of places did your former firm colleagues land, after leaving the firm?

It has varied a lot. Some went to other large law firms (usually for geographic reasons), some went to medium sized firms for a better shot at partnership or better lifestyle, many went in-house and a few (not many) left the law completely to switch fields or go into politics.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 05, 2015 10:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
TTTooKewl wrote:
What types of places did your former firm colleagues land, after leaving the firm?

It has varied a lot. Some went to other large law firms (usually for geographic reasons), some went to medium sized firms for a better shot at partnership or better lifestyle, many went in-house and a few (not many) left the law completely to switch fields or go into politics.


Thanks for the AMA. I just wanted to flesh out the above re: exiting law. For an M&A associate with 2 years experience (and some finance/accounting ability), are there opportunities for corporate development positions? What about IB? If so, did you consider these at all? Historically this has seemed to vary with the economy, so your input given the 2015 environment would be very interesting.

Also, do you know any associates who left to get an MBA? Where did they end up?




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